Title: I Will Always Love You
Author: Jessie Blackwood
Pairing: Sherlock/John
Fandoms: Sherlock
Rating: NC-17
Warning: WiP
Disclaimer: Characters owned by Moffat, Gatiss and the BBC. I don't own any of it, except maybe the idea for the story, etc. etc. etc., no infringement of copyright intended, no money being made, etc, etc. Any resemblance to any persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Summary: Another of my AUs taking its inspiration from the Bodyguard movie. Sherlock is a virtuoso violinist, John is the bodyguard brought in to consult on security issues. Mycroft is Sherlock's manager and Mrs Hudson is his music arranger. I am not counting this as a cross-over with the Bodyguard because I am using the premise only. No characters from the movie will appear.


Variations on a Theme

"I am not Whitney bloody Huston!" Sherlock snapped, glaring at his older brother venomously. "I do not need a bodyguard!" He punctuated each word with a stab of his bow toward the man who was blocking the doorway. The violin in Sherlock's other hand was in contrast cradled protectively against his chest.

"You've had death threats, Sherlock!" Mycroft snapped back. "You have at least one stalker, someone who could do you, or any one of us-your not-inconsiderable entourage-physical harm. You've had letters..."

"Letters?" Sherlock scoffed. "You consider those grammatically-challenged excuses for literature should be honoured with the title of letter?"

"Sherlock, please!" Mycroft was aware that he had uttered the worst word in the dictionary-aside from the word no-because Sherlock almost never responded to pleading. Mycroft tried for a logical argument and emotional blackmail instead. "No matter the intelligence of the person who sent them, the threat could be very real. What if Mrs Hudson were hurt-"

"So far, all I've seen is a few scraps of cheap paper decorated with an illiterate attempt to threaten me and scented with a whiff of cheap aftershave. Even the threat is not very imaginative. I shall burn the heart out of you? I'm reliably informed that I don't have one, as we both know. Come on, Mycroft, a child could do better!"

"An adult with the brain of a five year old can be even more dangerous-"

"Than what, Mycroft? A puppy? More dangerous than a hamster, maybe?"

"The last hamster you owned bit your right thumb and you were very poorly from the infection for three weeks. You couldn't write which made you well nigh impossible to live with. Small things can be very dangerous."

"I used the situation to good advantage. I taught myself to write with my left hand. I am now ambidextrous."

"Thank god you couldn't yet play the violin when that happened," Mycroft muttered. "And what about that chemistry set when you were nine? You destroyed the garden shed. God only knows where our cat went to. She left home after that incident with the potato-"

"The cat had more sense, she ended up living with the cook who cared for her much more than we did."

"Because you tried using that potato-powered clock as a timer for an improvised explosive device! It was a wonder you weren't arrested. Sherlock, it's past time you grew up and faced reality. We need to go to the police with this. We need to take advice. I know people who can help."

"Help? Cover the place with CCTV and have some meat-headed moron glued to my side 24/7? For God's sake, Mycroft, I am not about to start asking permission when I need to pee. I am not six years old. Furthermore, I most certainly am not having a bunch of lecherous twats ogling me wanking on cctv either. My privacy is non-negotiable and my bedroom off limits. I told you, I do not require a bodyguard and whoever is writing these letters can go to hell. I am not changing my lifestyle for anyone, otherwise the bastard wins."

"What lifestyle? Seriously, Sherlock, outside of your music, you don't have a life, but this is not just for your safety..."

"Pft!" Sherlock made a dismissive noise and lifted the bow, sweeping into a haphazard rendition of an out-of-key sea shanty. Mycroft stalked out, flipping open his mobile as he did so. With or without his brother's permission, this situation had gone on long enough.


"John? Could I have a word? This sounds like one for you." Mike Stamford stuck his head out of his office and beckoned toward a little group of people gathered round a computer screen. They were chuckling companionably about something. One of them, a shortish, blond man in his late thirties, detached himself and walked over. He was dressed simply; warm cable-knit sweater over a check shirt, a wax jacket hooked over his shoulder. Black cargos and practical military-style boots completed the ensemble.

"What's up, Mike?" Stamford watched the military walk and intense gaze as John Watson closed the distance between them.

"Security consultancy case, virtuoso violin player..." he ducked back into the office, raising his phone back to his ear while motioning John to follow, then waved his free hand at a seat, then he executed a hang on a moment gesture to stop John saying anything as the person he had been talking to obviously came back to the phone. John sank into the comfort of the seat that was normally reserved for clients and waited. "Yes, I'm still here." John was patient while Mike listened to his client, watching as the man nodded occasionally, as you do when you're on a phone even though people cannot possibly see you. Some of us still do it, John thought with amusement. "Yes, of course, I'm sure we can meet your needs," Mike was saying. "Certainly, Mr Holmes, I'll send someone around as soon as I can. Yes, of course. I'll email you the details." He bade the man goodbye and flipped his phone closed.

"No," John said firmly, crossing his arms over his chest and fixing Mike with a stare that on anyone else might have been labelled a glare.

"But I haven't told you anything yet," Mike protested.

"You don't need to, Mike. Violinist, you said. Holmes, you said. No, I said. You know why."

"John, look, I do understand. God knows I would feel the same in your position..."

"Don't lie, Mike, it doesn't become you." John stood up abruptly, almost tipping the chair over. He was positively vibrating with anxiety, straight-backed and fighting obvious emotion.

"John, it's been four years," Mike said gently. "Surely it's time to forgive yourself, eh? Even a little?"

"Not long enough. It'll never be long enough, Mike."


"It doesn't interfere with my work, does it?"

"Not usually, no. You never let it do that," Mike agreed. "Not in the field at any rate. Look, John, I've tried to be flexible about this. I've bent over backwards to help so that you stay off cases with potential triggers, but in this case, I'm stymied. I've no other field agents available and we need this contract. Look, I'm willing to pay you time and a half and add on a couple of extra weeks holiday for this." Mike's voice grew intense. "I need you on this one. It's a high profile case and it's too important to miss. We need this for the future of the company and I am not going to let this one go. I'm sorry if you feel it's too close to home but I want one of my best guys on this and at the moment, you're it."

"Mike, we both know you have better guys for this one than me..."

"John, don't pretend you don't know what the situation is. Kingsley is in Europe and won't be back for two weeks. Bonnington is up in Scotland with his Lordship and can't be reached. We have Hammond in New Zealand with that actor bloke, Downs and Davidson are in Ireland for the kidnap case and Sigerson is bodyguarding for that pop singing duo, you know, the ones with the hair. Sterling is in the Cook Islands following up on that witness relocation and I don't know who else to ask..."

"What about Monty?"

"Flew out to New York yesterday."


"On leave."





"Poor sod. What did he do wrong?"

"Nothing, he's recovering from that stab wound, visiting his sister in Swansea. So you tell me who the Hell else can I call?"

"What about... oh, never mind. So, what is it this time?" John asked, frustrated. "Stalker? Kiss and tell? Jealous ex-? Has Little-Miss-Impossible-to-Work-With made a real enemy for once?" Mike shook his head at the sarcasm.

"They want some advice on security measures at the country house and the London apartment. It could entail bodyguarding work for the foreseeable future. Give them the advice and if you feel you really can't do the rest, then give the bodyguarding part to someone else, just please don't let me down over this. This is Sherlock Holmes we're talking about..."

"The virtuoso violinist, golden boy and all-round wanker. Yes, I know who he is. His reputation precedes him. My mother thinks he's brilliant but flawed."

"Well, that was the older brother on the phone. Mycroft Holmes is also his manager. He's concerned that his little brother has picked up a stalker or two."

"Only two?"

"John, I shouldn't need to repeat how important this contract will be for us, this is very high profile. The man is a genius and his brother has friends in high places and fingers in pies. Bloody hell, he's friends with the heir to the throne of all people..."

"I do know who they are, Mike. I listen to Classic FM too." John stared out the window at the rain. It matched his mood.

"Look, you know the industry inside out. That's too good an advantage for me not to make use of." Mike grinned. "I'm only glad that some of my staff are interested in culture."

"Fuck you..." John said gruffly. "Okay, if you want me on this job then I want you to call back Murray and Moran. If you want me, I want them. I know you said they're on holiday but I trust them to do a half-decent job and they can take over if this gets too much for me. They're good reliable men. Offer them double time to come back early. I can work with them both and they know the score." John paused and sighed. "I can but hope l have no problems dealing with the Prima Donna. I just hope his brother is more practical."


The big house lay in its own grounds, a modest (for the period) 18th century sprawl that sported palladian windows and doric columns, more steps than Downton Abbey and an entrance hall that John could have fitted his modest semi-detached into. He was suitably impressed at the elegance, if it was a little bit National Trust with its landscaping. This place was privately owned though, the Trust hadn't got within sneezing distance of it. The house itself was a good five minutes drive from the main road, down a tree-lined avenue. It wound between clumps of artfully placed trees, positioned to show the hall off to the visitor in the best possible light. Even the sheep looked too clean.

John pulled the car up at the main door and got out, deciding to find out just how easy the access was around here. He pulled out a clipboard with some papers on it and shoved a pen behind his ear, thrust a pair of gold rimmed specs onto his nose and glanced at himself in the driving mirror. He looked for all the world as if he was meant to be there. Then he took a walk around the building, stopping several times to make notes as he went. His wandering took him around to the backyard, more of a stable yard in size, flanked on four sides by outbuildings of a suitably stabley nature. Under the archway that lead into the yard he found a door into a wing at the rear of the house, tried it and found it open. He had been there for fully five minutes and there was nobody to be seen. He had not been challenged, and there were no CCTV cameras trained on him as far as he could see. He glanced around, noting the positions that cctv cameras should have been in place but weren't, scribbled a few notes on his clipboard, then went inside.

The door gave onto what was obviously the old servant's wing, drab green and grey walls leading into the house proper. He followed the deserted corridor, his boots scuffing the quarry-tiled floor, listening for movement and hearing non. This place would have been bustling with servants a hundred years ago, he thought. Any time now he expected alarms and running feet and possible apprehension. At the very least, they should have sent security to politely ask him what the fuck he was doing there. He was vaguely disturbed when nothing was forthcoming.

John straightened as a group of three young men came around a corner of the corridor toward him, carrying gardening equipment. In his experience security personnel didn't moonlight as gardeners.

"Can I help you?" one of them asked and John smiled.

"No, thanks. I just popped back out to the car for the forms," he replied, flashing the clipboard."The work on the roof can start this week, I just need a signature. Mr Holmes is waiting for me in the library. John Kennedy, by the way. We'll probably be seeing more of each other soon." He smiled genially and reached out a hand and the young man who had spoken shook it unhesitatingly.

"Welcome to the madhouse then," he laughed. "Got to get on. Laters," he said, raising a hand in farewell, then nodded and carried on down the corridor and outside, laughing and joking about something with his mates. John watched him go, a fleeting look of concern in his eyes. He continued on his way.

Turning the corner where the young men had emerged from, John passed a half-open door, hearing voices. He ducked his head around it and surveyed the kitchen beyond. The vast cavernous space held tables and shelves and modern appliances, but its high ceilings soared above a huge inglenook fireplace with a black iron range, all that was left of that bygone age of servants and high society. Where dozens of people would have worked, now it was occupied by only three; two women of senior age-both married but one divorced-and one youngish-mid-thirties and single-drinking tea and chatting. Single was blond and slightly waif-like. The other two were more robust of build and more dominant of personality. They could be sisters, they were both possessed of the same heart-shaped face, dark brown wavy hair shot through with grey and the same dark eyes. They all looked up when he cleared his throat. "Any idea where I can find Mr Holmes?" he asked innocently enough. He made his smile slightly shy and eager to please.

"Which one?" the younger replied. She was openly interested in this stranger who had just interrupted their chat, John noticed. He smiled, eyes lingering on her a little longer than he needed, and then pretended to survey the clipboard.

"There's more than one?" John schooled his features into a suitably dim and slightly worried expression. "I have a Mr. Mycroft Holmes down here as the contact. I was supposed to meet him to discuss work on the garage roof? There's a leak..." he looked down at the board again. "Of epic proportions, my boss has commented here." He chuckled disarmingly. "Silly sod. He's always exaggerating like that. John Barrows by the way, Baker Maintenance..."

"Well, you shouldn't be here, love," the oldest of the three offered. "You need to talk to security." So there is something that passes for security here, John thought. The woman looked to be in her mid-fifties, married to go by her wedding ring. Her greying hair made her look older but in truth she was probably just sick of dying it.

"I did that," John lied easily. "They told me to go take a look and then come in round the back and I could find Mr Holmes in the Library."

"The library is across the entrance hall," the third one said helpfully. She was between the others in age, her figure told him she was a mum and her age was somewhere near his, early forties. She was quite pretty, and the absence of a ring on the fourth finger of her left hand but the indentation quite visible where one used to sit told him she was probably divorced. She smiled at him and he smiled back, flirting shamelessly with her. It usually got him a long way. She gave him directions and he backed out, hurrying down the corridor as fast as he could.

He found himself in back of the entrance hall, and nobody else was about. The strains of Mendelssohn came to his ears, from somewhere upstairs. Momentarily captivated he paused to listen. He wondered if that was the man himself or a recording. It was good, whoever it was. John walked steadily up the sweeping staircase, appreciating the grandeur of the place as he went. He tried a few doors, peering in carefully, ready with his excuse of being lost and looking for Mr Holmes. He met nobody, the place seemed almost deserted.

It didn't take him long to ascertain which suite was the maestro's. While luxurious, it was still somewhat spartan, lacking in the social objects that accumulate during one's life. There were few photos, one or two original paintings on the walls but not much else. One was a portrait of Sherlock Holmes playing his violin, eyes closed, lights shining on his hair, the rich colours vibrant and alive. John studied the rest of the place, paced about quietly, carefully. A door opened onto a nice bedroom, airy and quiet, decorated in neutral colours with understated style. Peaceful. The view over the Capability Brown landscaping was breathtaking. He browsed the few photographs, obviously family ones, dotted about the shelves.

"Who the hell are you?" The voice was annoyed, rather than scared. John turned, professional demeanour in place, his expression serious and undaunted. He found himself facing a stunningly beautiful-and very familiar-young man; short dark curls flopped over his forehead, pale green eyes above ridiculously sharp cheekbones glared fiercely and the cupid's bow mouth was set in a grim line. He topped John by a good few inches and used every advantage they gave him to loom over his shorter adversary. He was lean, vibrating with suppressed energy and righteous indignation. "You have an explanation?" he enquired acidly. "Before I knock you flat and hand you over to the police?"

John smiled, watching as the man reverently placed his violin out of harm's way on a chair. He moved gracefully, and quietly, perfectly aware of his own body, its co-ordination and equilibrium. Hands free, he turned to face the intruder again. To a layman the relaxed stance the young man had adopted might appear innocuous but John recognised the stance of a fighter. He wasn't sure what discipline Sherlock Holmes might be a proponent of, nor what level he might be, but John did not doubt that Sherlock was confident enough in it to expect success. Lesser men should by now be worrying but lesser men wouldn't have noticed anyway.

"Since I haven't tripped an alarm system," John said pleasantly, "I doubt that will be anytime soon." He thrust out a hand to the man, who did not take his hand in return. "John Watson, Senior partner, Baker Security. By all means, call your brother. Mycroft is expecting me and he has my details from our CEO, Mike Stamford. Just tell him Vatican cameos." He watched a frown pull those delicate brows together as the man listened to him. Then John watched as Sherlock Holmes flipped his sleek expensive iphone from his pocket and speed dialed, asking in caustic tones for Mycroft to please come to his bedroom, immediately. As he spoke, his eyes never stopped moving, taking in details. He raked his gaze over John, head to toe-not liking what he sees, John thought-then to the rest of the room, no doubt checking that nothing had been taken or moved. "He says to tell you Vatican cameos, whatever that means..." The frown deepened as the Mycroft abruptly cut the connection.

"I'm sorry if I startled you," John said, trying for reconciliation. "That was the password by the way, so your brother can confirm my identity. Prearranged by my office. Better you find me in here than a stalker, though. I gather you've been having some problems-" At this point the young man looked thunderous "-so I'm here to consult with you both on some improvements. I have to say I've already seen a few I can recommend."


"What were you thinking?" Mycroft Holmes was standing in the library with his back to the fireplace, his eyes glaring at John with an intensity the younger man found interesting. Mycroft was obviously affronted and didn't care who knew. "You scared my brother half to death."

"Oh, I don't think so, Mr Holmes. To say your brother was scared isn't giving him the credit he deserves." John grinned, good naturedly, glancing across at Sherlock who was lounging in a wing-back armchair and seemingly disinterested in the conversation, busily texting on his iPhone. Was it his imagination or had Sherlock hidden a smile? John's assessment elicited a shudder from Mycroft. "Either your brother is a bloody good actor or you're clueless where his reactions are concerned," John went on, keeping his eyes on the younger Holmes as he spoke. "I didn't frighten him, he was angry with me. I suspect that he can take care of himself although he shouldn't have to. Now if you want my help I respectfully suggest that you stop trying to intimidate me, it doesn't work. If it did, I wouldn't be very good at my job, would I? I came to discuss your security measures and to do that I had to assess the level of the present ones without hindrance."

"We have adequate-"

"Clearly you do not," John interrupted. "Why else did you call our office? You have little or none. Adequate is not the adjective I would have used to describe it." He ignored Mycroft's continued attempt to intimidate him. The man was slightly taller than his brother but he lacked the air of someone who was used to combat. John knew he himself was slightly challenged in the height department, he was all of five foot seven and weighed in at 75 kilos, but it was all muscle and what he lacked in inches he made up for in stubbornness. Captain John H Watson wasn't ex-RAMC for nothing. The former army doctor faced Mycroft Holmes down and glared at him. He needed to show the man that he meant business and that their situation was potentially dire. "Let me be honest about this, Mr Holmes. If you really wanted our services you should have been more honest about the woeful lack of security measures you have in place right now. I'll come straight to the point. I got in here far too easily. I walked in the back way, I met several members of your staff and I got past them with no difficulty. So far I've given two different names and nobody checked me out beyond telling me I should talk to security. The person was satisfied when I said I had. I looked like I belonged and I acted as if I did. Gets you a long way sometimes. I managed to come face to face with your brother in his bedroom. Now, if I'd had murderous tendencies..." he shrugged and let the statement lie. The older Holmes swallowed and glanced across at the younger whose pale gaze was now fixed on John's face. He didn't seem to be worried. John glanced across at Sherlock and smiled, although the warmth did not reach his eyes. Sherlock's expression was impassive. John turned back to Mycroft. "So, am I to assume you still want our help?" John asked.

"I have to say that I'm honestly not sure," Mycroft drawled, having seemingly recovered his composure. "Having met you, Mr Watson, I've not seen much to recommend your firm to me..."

John sighed. "Anyone else would give you the same assessment. If not us, I suggest you get someone on the job soon or you'll find you might be faced with people who don't have your best interests at heart." He rose from his seat and turned to the door. "I'll see myself out, shall I?" he nodded and walked to the door. He was aware he was blowing this for Mike and felt a pang of guilt but underneath he really had no time for these people. They weren't prepared to listen. He had heard that holier than thou response before. We know best it said, when it should have said please help us.

"Mr Watson?" the baritone voice called to him as he was crossing the entrance hall. John stopped, then pivotted around to see Sherlock standing there, watching him, framed by the elaborately columned doorway. He had followed his exit from the office.

"Mr Holmes?"John replied, keeping his voice neutral.

"My brother can be a terrible prick sometimes. Can I talk to you for a minute?" John paused, then squared his shoulders and nodded. He found himself following the younger Holmes into a beautiful drawing room. "So you think I need more security measures?" Sherlock began.

"You don't need more."

"But I thought you said..."

"The whole point is that you can't have more of something you don't actually have in the first place." John grinned. "Okay, it was a bad joke, but I got in here far too easily. I made a sweep of the entire building. No CCTV on the perimeter, nothing at all in the way of security personnel and if they exist they're stationed in the wrong place. There was nobody to even challenge my right to be here. Clearly nobody knows what goes on in this house. Nobody knows every face, nor who is supposed to be where. There are no adequate locks, no gate security, nothing. How do you exist?"

"Am I supposed to answer that?"

"Yes. Frankly, I fail to see how you can manage to live with so little in the way of protection."

"I always use protection. Honestly, John, I'm not an idiot." There was a veiled double entendre in there, if the rise of an eyebrow was anything to go by.

"First name terms already, Mr Holmes? We hardly know each other."

"I'm sure we'll remedy that soon enough. I can see that you're ex-military, recently returned from Afghanistan or Iraq. You were an army doctor?"

"Surgeon, actually."

"Interesting. This is your first job since being rehabilitated into civilian life but you chose a career change."

"What? You've been reading my file... hang on, Mike never sends personal information to clients... beyond a photo and a name and the formal Baker CV. None of what you've said is on that...and when we met in your bedroom, you didn't know me. If you'd read my file, you would have seen my photo..." Sherlock was smiling. "How did you do that?"

"Elementary, Doctor Watson. Do take a seat, you look tired and doubtless that leg is aching again."

"I'm fine..." It was John's turn to frown.

"You don't look fine." John was taken aback by Sherlock's forthrightness but chose to say nothing. Something about the young man intrigued him, even though he had been thrown on the defensive by the personal comments.

"Well, I can assure you, I am fine," he replied. "My health is not in question here."

"Good. Take a seat anyway."

"How did you know?"

"How did I know what exactly?"

"All of it. How on earth did you know about Afghanistan?" Sherlock sighed and smiled.

"It is very simple, Doctor Watson, but I see I'll have to be tedious and reveal my methods to you. I assure you, though, they don't involve sacrificing a goat in the middle of a stone circle at midnight. Witchcraft," he explained at John's blank expression. "There's more than one person accused me of it." He sounded exasperated. "So then, your face is tanned and so are your hands but it doesn't extend above your wrists so it wasn't gained from a holiday. It's faded, so it isn't that recent, but it hasn't faded entiredly so it is probably within the last year. Your haircut and your walk all shout military, rather than police. Security firms typically take ex-coppers and ex-soldiers, so not exactly a huge leap. This is most likely your first job since being discharged, you're a senior partner already which takes a little time, unless you rose quite quickly which indicates specialist skills and abilities, or you slept with your boss, which under the circumstances I find a little improbable... You probably needed at least six months to recuperate and then you got this job... how am I doing so far?"

"Amazing... So, how did you know I was a doctor?"

"Its on your blog."

"My blog?" That was slightly disappointing.

"I admit I googled your name while I was listening to you dressing Mycroft down," Sherlock explained, brandishing his iphone. "Which was a pleasurable few minutes, I have to add. I found your blog. Interesting. From the entries it looks like your therapist suggested you document your recovery process. You mention that you were a doctor as well as the death of your wife. My condolences."

"Thank you but it was four years ago."

"Four years is not so very long, not for the loss of a spouse, assuming you loved her of course. She also died due to complications in childbirth. As a doctor you would have taken that hard. You were already an army man, your walk and the way you carry yourself tells me you've been in the service more than four years. You would have been straight in at the rank of Captain; it's standard for already qualified medics. Then off you go, charging into danger, saving lives in the operating theatre on the front line. But after you were injured, you decided you couldn't face anymore, probably because of your wife's death, hence the change of career. Understandable really."

"Good deduction. I'm told it's a typical reaction." Sherlock studied John's face.

"Have I upset you? You do have all that on your blog, anyone can access it."

"Yes, anyone can," John agreed. "So that bit about the tan..."

"Still holds. Fact. Evidence. Right there in front of my eyes. Only confirmed what the blog told me. So the blog is true, not a fabricated background. You are who you say, warts and all."

"Warts and all," John agreed, quietly.

"But you still feel I've intruded."

John sighed. "Well..." He fixed his gaze on the pale eyes staring back at him. "Doubtless we can redress the balance when you tell me more about yourself later this evening?" Sherlock paused, smiled, then nodded. Dear God, does he think I'm flirting with him now? Well, you suggested something that sounded like an intimate conversation, John thought. Only got yourself to blame then.

"So, what security measures do you recommend?" Sherlock asked.

"I haven't said I'll take the job yet. Besides, your brother was the one who initially contacted us and he seems less than impressed."

"Mycroft cannot complain. I'll be doing something he has suggested I do since day one. Either it'll shock him into a heart attack or he'll be indebted to me forever. Either way would be acceptable in my purview. So come on now, doctor, talk me through this. What do we need to make my home into my castle?"

"Well... call me John then. I don't actually go by that title any more."

"Why not?"

"Well, I'm not one. Not any more."

"Surely you just don't stop being a doctor."

"Well, I'm not practicing any more."

"I wouldn't have thought you needed to practice anything..." The slight smirk told John that Sherlock was actually joking, again. That gave John pause. Good grief, was he flirting again? "I'm sorry, that was facetious of me." The man could change mood so swiftly it was breathtaking. He was suddenly serious and courteous again. "So, you were wounded then? Left shoulder and right thigh at a guess. You hold yourself slightly lopsided. Does it impair your shooting?"

"Not at all, I'm right handed anyway."

"Good. Look, if I'm being impertinent, please tell me to shut up. I'm reliably informed I suffer from Aspergers so I don't always notice social signals."

"Who informed you?"

"My brother... he had it from a reliable Harley Street source."

"Hm, well, let me be the judge of that then. So... You're hiring me?"

"I thought that was obvious."Sherlock looked just a little afronted.

"Just confirming. We'll need to go over agreements, contracts, that kind of thing. I need to speak to my boss, I'll have risk assessments to do. I'll need to put in a site report on what I feel is required and costings need to be made. We'll need to implement the arrangements as soon as possible. I'm going to need a hotel somewhere close..."

"Nonsense, why would you need a hotel?"

"To stay close? I have to be on site every day until this is complete. I'm not pitching a tent."

"You'll stay here, of course. I insist. We have plenty of rooms. You can have the suite next to mine."

"If you're sure."

"Of course I'm sure. It would make no sense at all to do otherwise. Doubtless my brother has mentioned that he feels I need a bodyguard?"

"He suggested it, yes."

"He's being a mother hen."

"Looking at the file, he's mentioned death threats and threatening letters. I know a lot of celebs get those but he seemed pretty worried."

"I'm not without resources myself. I can take care of myself in a fight."

"I know," John said, initiating a hard look from Sherlock. "I'm not doubting your courage. Unless I'm very much mistaken, you are a reasonably proficient proponent of a martial art, although I'm not sure which one." Sherlock smiled.

"Good deduction on your part, John. I study Bartitsu, a forgotten art developed in 1898 by a gentleman who went by the name of Edward William Barton-Wright. It's quite comprehensive, it combines elements of Judo, boxing, savate-French kickboxing-and stick fighting. I'll show you sometime. You'll see I'm not afraid of a fight."

"Never doubted it, but the trouble is, it's more complicated than that." John's gaze locked with Sherlock's. "Bodyguards are physical shields, but security companies set up the firewalls, the crenellations on your life. We provide personnel, cctv, drivers, cars, training for your own people, surveillance equipment, negotiators..."


"We specialise in hostage situations, kidnap, blackmail, that kind of thing."

"Interesting. I had no idea you were so...versatile," Sherlock purred. Dear God, that man could put innuendo into a shopping list, John thought. Which meant that this was going to be more difficult than he had first thought.

"We have to diversify these days. Always someone willing to pip you to the post for your business. Anyway, what you need is to keep potential threats at bay. At least don't give them the opportunity to get close. We can provide that shield..."

"Baker Street Security comes highly recommended. I googled you."

"We've worked with some high profile clients."

"That's where Mycroft comes in. He has some high profile contacts. He used to be the British Government before he decided to retire and be my manager. He's seven years older than me, he had already made his fortune by the time he was thirty and his contacts by the time I was starting to become a household name."

"Seasoned entrepreneur then?"

"Oh yes. Although Mycroft and I have...a strained relationship. We never see eye to eye on things. At least he keeps himself to marketing me and managing my image and my assets and negotiating contracts, that kind of thing. He arranges gigs and tours and media interviews. He leaves the creative side to myself and my musical arranger, Mrs Hudson. She has the flat under mine in London. There's also Anthea, she's our PA, she arranges our hotels and travel and photo shoots and magazine appearances, she is a tour de force where logistics are concerned. You'll need to work closely with her."

"You should introduce me then."

"All in good time, John, all in good time." Sherlock smiled. "Do you have to return to London tonight? Or did you bring a suitcase?"

"I have an overnight bag..."

"Good. Dinner is at seven, I'll get someone to show you to your room. What? Did I miss something?"

"I haven't actually said I'll take the contract."

"John, John, John, I'm disappointed in you. You know you want to take this case..." Sherlock's smile was maddening. John sighed.

"Alright, I'll call my boss and arrange the details. I think you should talk to your brother though. If I don't have his agreement it might make things difficult."

"I will. Stay here." Sherlock was gone in an instant, leaving John slightly breathless. The room was pleasantly warm and John sat down, noting the comfort of the chair he was occupying. Everything was top quality, no expense had been spared. There was an old world charm, the hint of old money; titles and inheritance, rather than the money that comes from a rise to fame. The paintings that seemed to stare down disapprovingly at the security consultant bore witness to that. On closer inspection, one or two bore the name of Holmes.

John's phone ringing dragged him out of a doze ten minutes later. "Hello?"


"George? Where are you?"

"On the way back from Malaga. I got a text from Stamford. What kind of shit are you in now, you numpty?"

"None, yet. I asked him to call you. I want you on this case, Georgie. I'd like you at my back in this. When will you get back?"

"I can be with you in a few hours. I need to call home first. Should I bring a suitcase?"

"Yes, this is residential. I think I may be able to swing you a room here. Have you heard from Moran?"

"Nope. I know Moran was in Thailand. I have no idea what he was up to but a bird will be involved if I know Seb. I have no idea if he's back yet or what."

"Okay. I asked Stamford to get him too."

"You need that much back up on this one? What are we dealing with, the Brady Bunch on uppers?"

"Nope. Sherlock Holmes..."

"What, that poncy violinist off the telly? Fuck me, you poor sod. I've heard he's a right wanker..."

"Yeah, well, said wanker is coming back any minute so I need to sign off. Call me when you get home." Sherlock swept in just as John snapped his phone shut. He paused, glanced around suspiciously and then fixed John with a smile.

"Your room awaits and you have Mycroft's blessing. I'll get Anthea to show you up there and you can come down when dinner is ready. Freshen up, we'll see you at seven." Sherlock paused in the doorway. "How much do you know about the music business, John?"

"What do I need to know?"

Sherlock sighed."This could be difficult if you don't know anything at all. Have you even been to a concert?"

John nodded. "In my student days..."

"Oh, dear God. Have you ever been to one that was anything but a primal testosterone-fuelled assault on the eardrums? Do you even listen to classical music?"

"I like musicals..."

"Oh, Christ," Sherlock muttered in despair. He turned his back and walked out, shaking his head. John's grin widened. This was going to be worth it.

Thank you for reading, reviews welcome as usual. Posted very late at night, if anything is wrong, then blame it on lack of sleep...